Saturday, January 24, 2009

What the US Knew and Chose to Forget in 1948, and Why It Matters in 2009 - Irene Gendzier

Znet, January 23, 2009 - ....Many have pointed out that the Israeli invasion of Gaza bears a highly disturbing resemblance to the massive expulsion of Palestinians in 1948. Some 700,000-800,000 people were dispossessed from their homes as a result of policies pursued by the military forces of what became the state of Israel in May 1948. US policymakers then were fully aware of the origins and likely consequences of what became the Palestine refugee problem. Their responses are part of the documentary record that is, unfortunately, little known today. Yet however significant the major regional and international changes that have occurred in the intervening years, there is an undeniable connection between the traumatic developments of that period and those taking place in the West Bank and, notoriously, in Gaza today. That US officials were fully apprised of the origins of the Palestine refugee problem remains important, that they chose to set it aside and to reward the emergent Israeli state for its ability to violate border agreements and expel the native population of Palestine without incurring effective regional or international challenge, was indicative of Washington's calculations. Those went considerably beyond Palestine.

In 1948 as now, Washington concluded that it had a stake in the outcome of the Palestinian struggle that was inseparable from its interests in the region. It was not Hamas that Washington worried about in 1948, but the prospect of an independent Palestinian state as envisioned in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Therein lies their preference for the enhanced role of Transjordan in taking over what remained of Palestine, which was the new state of Israel's preferred policy as well....

Irene Gendzier is Professor in the Department of Political Science, Boston University. She is the author of Notes From the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945-1958 (Columbia University Press, 1997, 2006), co-editor with Richard Falk and Robert J. Lifton, Crimes of War: Iraq (Nation Books, 2006). She is currently completing a study of the foundations of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in the period, 1945-1949, entitled Dying to Forget.

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